The Graveyard

The Lair Of Gary James

Posts Tagged ‘reality television’

Real Life Still Isn’t Represented In Media

Posted by BigWords on October 26, 2009

People are so varied that sometimes, just when you least expect it, an individual will emerge from an unlikely and obscure place and their story will take on a life of its’ own. There are the bona-fide experts on subjects who make ridiculous statements with all the seriousness they can muster, and some – Edward De Bono – are even taken seriously by people who should know better. There are the bored code-monkeys who discovered how to make money from thin air, kids who fool the world with balloon-related pranks, and actors jumping up and down on Oprah’s sofa.

Great way to prove you ain’t gay, Tom…

Oh the joys of seeing the things that go on. If I tried to write a novel which encompassed the absurdities of life, and kept strictly to things which have actually occurred, it would be laughed out of town as unbelievable. Life is complicated, and sexy, and hilarious, and ridiculous, and disgusting, and horrifying… Simplifications of what our existence amounts to in fiction makes reality even more ridiculous when viewed through sober eyes and a clear mind.

It’s hard to put down on paper (or type, as I do) fiction that contains just enough absurdity to reflect reality, but doesn’t fall into unbelievability. I still haven’t worked out if I should try to explain why people are so wrong when they claim that some fiction is like life ripped from reality and pasted on the page. Does it matter that such a feat is impossible? The ailments, observations, minutia, boring bits, slapstick and bowel movements of the average person (though such an individual arguably does not exist) cannot be captured on paper without some degree of editing.

“Literary” still has some growing up to do before I take it seriously.

Any ‘reality’ is a skewed one when put on paper. The digital superhighway – such a stupid term, but a useful way of comparing the internet to a neverending traffic jam – is filled with supposedly ‘real’ moments in private lives. I’ve got no time for moronic “Lookit me, I’m setting my head on fire” videos, and even less time for ten-minute-long videos of people bemoaning their pathetic existence. It isn’t real, because the artifice of display gets in-between the truth and the viewer. Big Brother, whilst listed as a ‘reality show’ is merely the end result of focus groups and sadistic producers. No reality involved.

I’ve been reading a lot of blogs and websites this past week which seem inclined to accept stories in newspapers at face value. The habit certain individuals have gotten into, of merely saying whatever in the news interests them, is a bad one. I’m tempted to start linking to these blogs and taking apart the news they hold dear, but I really don’t want to re-read their take on the news. Which is, as any intelligent person can see from the cover of a newspaper, nearly always skewed and distorted by reporters and editors.

One of the funniest things about British news is the insistence that half-naked women are of urgent importance and news worthiness. No. Sorry, but I’m not impressed. It’s trifling and irrelevant scum journalism which borders on the stalker-ish. Two-page spreads on forthcoming television shows? Hackery of the worst kind. Giveaways? That’s a sure way to increase readership, especially when a national tabloid decides that cartoon DVDs will boost readership. Can I say “The Sun / Daily Star / Daily Record was grooming children” without a lawsuit? Fuck yeah. Try and stop me.

Only when all barriers between subject and audience has been removed will reality be represented in anything other than a superficial and meaningless way, and we ought to start taking what we see, hear and read with a pinch of salt. It is especially important that people come to realize that Hollywood – that legendary vile den of iniquity – shoulders a fair proportion of the blame for ills which are now, sadly, all too common. Anorexia? Thank the airbrushed posters of skeletal good-for-nothings celebrities.

The rise in breast implants? Posters of Keira Knightley with massive tits ain’t fooling anyone. I’m shocked that people believe the ‘perfect people’ are free of cellulite, blemishes and zits; elevated individuals who have never experienced the delights of either diarrhea nor broken noses… It’s dangerous portrayals of ‘the body beautiful’ which infect minds and begin the slow descent into self-awareness in teenagers. And younger. Can’t we, as a species, accept that we’re fed so much bullshit from the media?

Yeesh, that’s a rant and a half… I’m stopping before I upset anyone else. If I’ve missed any targets, please let me know who to lay into next.

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Miss Universe As A Cultural Touchstone

Posted by BigWords on August 16, 2009

The extravaganza known as the Miss Universe Pageant returns, and I’m not sure what to make of proceedings. I’m straight, so the idea of looking at women in skimpy clothes isn’t unheard of, but the way these shows operate doesn’t do anything for me. Really, take a look at the women participating in the show. Go on. Click the link and take a look. Done? Right, lets examine what’s wrong with this idea.

Firstly, the contest is all about looks. You won’t see figures like Beth Ditto among the competitors, and that is extremely divisive in a world which already stigmatizes women who don’t spend three hours in front of a mirror before they leave the house. I’m not sure what message we (= men) are meant to take from these kinds of events, but I’m sure it isn’t a healthy message, and it certainly isn’t one which women (in general) want to promote.

Maybe I’m being too critical about the show, but I really can’t see how being judged on appearance and servility to an outmoded concept of ‘perfection’ is of any benefit. There are ways for women to show their equality, but appearing on this type of a program diminishes the work that intelligent and amazing women are doing. I’m not saying the contestants are dumb… far from it. There are women who have used these events as ways of making money to get through college.

The blame for these shows (flesh markets might be a more apt term) is squarely on the event organizers and the television producers willing to demean people for ratings. This is only a small part of the larger problem in modern pop media, where whorish attention to individuals is used as cheap and titillating entertainment. Big Brother, American Idol and other ‘reality’ shows are also symptoms of the disease running through television like a bad-taste ebola.

Should these shows be banned? No. I’m against censorship, but ignoring the existence of bad taste and car-wreck television should be advised as a way of stifling the output of crap. If we stop watching, then they will stop making the bad television. Simple.

Unrealistic expectations are being foisted upon the minds of girls watching these shows, and a direct line between the representation of women in media and the rise of eating disorders is clear to anyone who has looked at the corollary data. With the rise of glossy magazines and shows which focus on appearance, more girls turn to calorie-counting, purging and all the other weight-control freakery that does not lead to attractiveness to the opposite sex. We don’t want stick insects on our arms.

Turn off the television and read a good book. Hell, read a trashy paperback, whatever you have lying around… Just keep the television off.

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The Pain Never Ends…

Posted by BigWords on June 30, 2009

It continues and continues and continues… I am, of course, talking about the endless stream of sub-par, quasi-retarded ‘reality’ television shows. The worst offender is, by a large margin, Big Brother, whose selection policy for contestants seems to be asking them a handful of rather simple questions:

  1. Do you know your own name?
  2. Can you tie your own shoelaces?
  3. Are you insane?

If they answer ‘yes’ to all three questions they get in. Lord Reith must be doing pirouettes in his fucking grave.

I don’t blame Channel 4. Not in the slightest. I blame the people who keep watching the show, hoping to catch the three minutes of actual entertainment broadcast in any 24 hour period, who gossip about the mundanities of the talentless, underachieving morons who parade their inadequacies to the nation in a series of humiliating and demeaning ‘challenges’. If there was a God, then the house would burn to the ground with all the contestants still inside.

Why do I care?
Well, apart from the fact that these kinds of shows are taking valuable television air-time away from shows which have writers, whose production needs actors, and whose shelf-life is a little longer than a bottle of milk, then there is absolutely nothing wrong with reality television. If the UK can’t create some new series, which have intricately crafted plots, subtle acting and intelligent messages, then the reputation for class and elegance (which we have been fooling the world with) is gonna be screwed.

There’s a thin line between populist broadcasting and whoring, and Channel 4 is pulling up her fishnets and scribbling “£20” on the side of her white stillettos.

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You Don’t Have To Be Miserable, But It Helps

Posted by BigWords on June 27, 2009

There’s a thread running through the media at the moment which goes some way to explaining the way in which deeply flawed human beings can produce great works of art. I’ve read all this before, and so (I’m sure) has everyone else. The basic theory runs thus: Happy, contented folks are most likely to do diddly-squat in the realms of greatness, while others – who are addicted to drugs, have long and painful illnesses, have no luck at relationships and are quite horribly fucked up – go on to soar in their chosen field.

Riiiiiighhhhht. So that’s why I’ve not written the Greatest Novel Ever Written, I’m too happy.

I hate the premise of the cod-psychology being trotted around at the moment for a few reasons. I would hate to think that Roy Orbison could only have recorded songs of such power and intensity because of his personal life. The opposite (that those songs were recorded despite his circumstances) is much more appealing, and gives a glimpse into the man’s willpower and intelligence. I’m not using Michael Jackson as an example, because every other outlet of opinion, information and hackery is beating the subject to death, so I’m sticking with past examples. If you’re missing you’re daily fix of salacious gossip, feel free to pretend we’re talking about MJ.

Some examples of crazy+ miserable = genius are so abstract in their implementation that it becomes painful to read the words. One particular subject for this brand of historical pop-shrinkage is Vincent Van Gogh, whose paintings “are obviously the work of a genius” and who was “miserable”. Okay, I’m willing to play this game… Explain how the two are connected? C’mon…

It’s all bullshit. The press needs to feed people a line, and the public are dumb enough to take the bait. If the corrolation between misery and genius was to be proven, then the poor saps who are routinely trotted out on stage in reality television would be producing novels, albums, television series and paintings whose sublime beauty and overwhelming strength would carry the ability to drive people to tears. They aren’t doing this, of course – they are too busy bitching about the trailer park they live in, or complaining that their twelve year old daughter is pregnant (again), or wondering how to open a carton of milk without pouring the contents down their front…

Am I being too harsh?

No. People, on the whole, are dumb.

You know genius when you see it. Certain folks are destined for greatness due to their inherent abilities, and nothing life throws at them will stop them. If Roy Orbison had a happy and contented life, he wouldn’t have been a lounge singer – he would still have been a great recording artist. Don’t pay any attention to the newspapers or television reports in the next couple of days, because the crap will be flying thick and fast as people try to get their two cents on the air. Wait a while, then go back to the albums and books which are considered the work of greatness.

I’m now ignoring CNN’s blathering completely. Ditto to the BBC (the Bullshit Broadcasting Corporation) and Sky. I don’t need the headache which accompanies their “news”, and I’ll just get irritated if I try to untangle their mangling of the English language…

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